Double Agent
Chrono Crud - January 30, 2002 - Erin Mehlos

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. You have 10 seconds to un-sexy yourself. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Another of my topics has yielded an unforeseen amount of mail. I couldn't acknowledge a third of tonight's speculation as to Chrono Brake/Break details -- worse still, I haven't addressed a single one of the many letters hypothesizing as to the real reason for the dual titles. It's worth mentioning that one astute reader pointed out that "Chrono Break" is not yet a registered trademark -- the application has merely been filed. Also, as many of you went to great lengths to bring to my attention, only to have me ignore your letters in favor of something more amphibious landing craft-shaped, it is worth noting that the popular theory regarding the name discrepency is more or less a simple lack of faith in Japanese developers' mastery of the English language. The runner-up, then, is the thought that "Brake" is easier to tackle over there than "Break," with its nonsensical dipthong crappiness.

So, uh, anyway.... This whole column is CT/CC spoilers should that still be of any concern.

Let's go.

Tough Break


I choose not to speculate on the game at this time, since all we have is just a name. But I can tell you my hopes on the matter.

I hope that if they choose to continue the storyline with Serge and any of his cohorts (or even if they don't), they don't just KILL THEM OFF for no good reason, like they decided to do with the CT cast. Crono and Marle, dead! Lucca, Lynx burned her house down! Robo? Well, FATE just ate him!

Whether or not they decide to continue Serge's story, I hope they focus on a few interesting characters rather than a whole slew of nobodies, most of whom belong in a freak show rather than an RPG party (namely Mojo, Skelly, NeoFio, Poshul, Funguy, and Pip; Turnip, too, I guess, though he was kind of cool). I think it should be 10-15 people max. Like, for Chrono Cross, I would have chosen Serge, Kid, Harle, Lynx, and The Badasses (Karsh, Fargo, Norris, and Glenn; this list is pretty subjective, but these are the guys I liked), and maybe a few others. No, I don't need a rock star Marilyn Manson-wannabe, a chef, or a pro wrestler, thank you very much. Just a few badasses like Magus or Karsh will do nicely, thanks.

Also, I hope when they write the story, they don't start changing various aspects of the original two titles to make the storyline, like Chrono Cross did with Chrono Trigger. A good example of this is the time- and space-travelling sword Masamune. From Frog to whoever (judging from the "Life Skips a Beat" ending of the PSX CT) to Radius to Dario to Lynx back to Dario and finally to Serge. For not having either legs or an owner, that sword sure does get around. Another example is this "Lavos made humans evolve from apes" nonsense. Lavos landed in 65,000,000 B.C. Ayla and the humans were plenty evolved by then, considering they looked just like Crono and his friends. Yet in CC it says Lavos' radiation caused humans to evolve from apes.

Finally, I hope they LEAVE OUT THE PREACHING. "Hello, Mr. Dwarf. Hello, Ms. Fairy. No, I'm not trying to destroy your habitat. I'm just trying to save my friend. Your lives suck, true, but maybe you shouldn't blame it on humans, or at the very least not all humans." I swear, after CC's Ice Breath sidequest, I personally wanted to jab my sword into the throat of every damn fairy and dwarf I saw, just in case they were about to say something stupid about how evil human beings are. Hell, even Kojima wasn't that blatant about nukes in Metal Gear Solid!

And those are my hopes for the next installment of the Chrono series. While it was a great game, CC had some noticeable flaws. Those can't be corrected now, but hopefully they can be prevented from plaguing the next game in the series.

Oh, and it wouldn't hurt if they got the original Dream Team back.
Especially Akira Toriyama.

Robert Silvers

Simply being too large wasn't, to my line of thinking, the problem with CC's cast. Suikoden has always got by with over twice CC's 40 or so freaks without illiciting furious retribution -- the likes of Skelly, NeoFio, Poshul and Funguy just ... well ... sucked.

As far as the Dream Team.... I can't say I was dissatisfied with CC's pool of talent. Toriyama's great and all, but he's hardly on par, the way I see things, with Nomura or Yuuki in terms of out-there originality.

Breaking the rules

Agent Agent,

I see two possibilities for the next Chrono game, based on the registered names (and depending on which trademark is correct).

Marle gets on the bus to go visit her friends in Truce, not realizing that Lavos has sabotaged it so that if the vehicle drops below 55 mph it will explode. Crono has to board the bus and find the mystic relic Chrono Brake which will allow the bus to come to a halt without detonating the bomb. In the end, Crono and Marle stop Lavos, but not before Lavos' booby-trap kills Crono's partner during an arrest attempt. The game ends with the two newfound lovers discussing their intention to have shallow monkey sex, leaving an unsavory image in the minds of players everywhere (no one should ever have to imagine an Akira Toriyama character naked - it's just too horrible) and ensuring that Chrono Cross' ending seems like a work of genius in comparison.

Tired of having to trudge through Lizard Rock and kill innocent creatures every time Leena decides she needs new jewelry, Serge takes a part-time job in Hamburger Hell flipping grease patties to help pay for her demanding whims. But one morning he looks up and find that the clock seems to have stopped - he's trapped at the fry machine without hope of a breather. Time slows to a crawl, minutes stretch to seeming hours - so he begins a quest in the freezer room to find the mystic relic Chrono Break, which will make time seem to accelerate and allow his 15-minute smoke break in the alley out back to come sooner. Before he has to get back to his dreary life of drudgery and tedium, which offers him plenty of chances to say, "Sheesh, why didn't I ditch this Leena chick and hook up with Kid?" This game might be banned in the US, since the Chrono Break given to Serge by Mojo looks suspiciously like a joint.

In any case, it's easy to tell by the name alone that this next game will suck! Yeah.


It's required by federal law that someone sing of the inevitable suckiness of an upcoming title based solely on some skeletal early news -- it might as well be JP.

Break it up

Ms. Erin,

When I heard about Chrono Break, the first thing that I said was: "It better be better than Chrono Cross." Let me explain.

I loved the characters in Chrono Trigger, and how none of them were replaceable, they were all unique. They all had strong backstory and unique personalities, and they all had different attacks, techniques, etc. Wanted to use water magic? Better have Frog in your party. Every character was unique and interesting.

Then came Chrono Cross. I found the idea amazing. A new world, tied subtly to the original, with non-random battles and great music by the Chrono Trigger composer. Sounded amazing. But what it was to me was pretty medicore. I mean, it's not a bad RPG by any means, but some things about it really irked me. #1, the characters. There were a million of them, but the only ones with an interesting and meaningful story behind them were Serge, Kid and Lynx. Most of the other characters were either cool, or jokes, or had little backstory. And besides the very boring (IMO) techs that they had, there was nothing else unique about the characters. The story was all right, but not extremely memorable. At least the music and graphics were good, except for that horrible battle theme.

Here's what I want Chrono Break to be. I want a few, memorable characters. I want unique music for each of them (theme song) like the original. I want a really good story. I want characters that have attacks unique to everyone else, leave the customization to Final Fantasy. I don't mind new ideas, and I don't mind experimentation, but stay true to the core that is Chrono Trigger, with no random battles. I would LOVE it if the battles were on the same screen as the exploration.

I basically want Chrono Trigger +. Who's with me ?


For me the chief lure of CC was the element system. Battles in this game were, for the first time since the SNES, no longer a chore. They were fun. And yet, you have an undeniable point. Very often it didn't matter who was in your party -- you just needed, say, a green element. So you had your choice of Karsh, NeoFio, Razzle, or any one of the other dozen people with the green attribute. CC's characters were flat, interchangeable afterthoughts right down to their battle applications.

Break it down

Erin: "The Girl Who Stole the Stars",

Dearest, you shouldn't let the unwashed masses control you. If you don't wanna do Square topics, then don't. If you do wanna do Square topics, then do Square topics. Just keep reminding yourself.. "I'm the god, I'M THE GOD!". Whip those little piggies back in to shape and show 'em who's boss. With that said, I'm glad I get to gush about the possibilities of a new Chrono game.

While many people seemed to love bitching about CC (mostly people who started with CT and, therefore, hold it as their sacred cow), I found it to be one of the most, if not THE most, enjoyable RPG(s) of the PSX era. Between the game systems, the music (Mmmmm... Scars of Time.. [Homer drool]), and the island paradise atmosphere, I was in love from day one. Yes, the story threw 98% of the plot twists at you at once and yes, not all of the 40+ characters were pure gold... but hey, in a group that large you're bound to have a couple of duds. Besides, a lot of these people are the same ones who think Toriyama's characters were sheer brilliance. [rolls eyes] Don't get me wrong, I love CT. I just can't help but chuckle when people talk about Toriyama's "creativity". ANYWAYS... before I get sidetracked. (I know, too late)

The fact that we're getting another Chrono game at all is a sign that the gods really are listening and love us very much (or me, at least). The name Chrono Break/Brake is a bit goofy, but I'm sure it will probably make sense once we play the game. As for what we might expect from a third game, I would surmise we'll probably see a loosely- connected story, a New Game+ feature, and an appearance by Janus. Past that, it's all gravy. Frankly, I'll be satisfied with it as long as Mitsuda does the music and the game keeps all the same basic gameplay elements of the past two Chrono games (no random battles, Dual/Triple Techs, etc.). Though I'd hope they keep the non-level based system from CC.

Griffin, who's praying for a reappearance of ze Miss Harle, non?

For all that Mitsuda sings to my Celtic blood like no other, I found myself yearning for the less impersonal, character-oriented themes of CT quite often playing through CC. But of course, doing something similar with CC would've been asking the nigh-impossible of its composer: "Yasunori... we're also gonna need 40+ character pieces for these people. Oh, and, uh... they have no defining personality traits, so... have fun with it."

Mental Break


I've noticed a few things in common between all of the Crono Titles. I'll show you a little list of corrolations between the second word of each title.

1. Each one can be expressed as a noun and a verb. "Trigger" could refer to a gun trigger, or to trigger a chain reaction. "Cross" could refer to a crucifix, or to cross a road or river. "Break" could refer to a pause from work, or to destroy. "Brake" also means the action of stopping a car, and the device that does so.

2. As nouns they must be able to be held in one hand, therefore they can be carried in the inventory. You can hold a gun trigger, cross, or a handbrake in your hand. What's interesting is that once these items are revealed in the game, they look nothing like their respective nouns. (Break doesn't fit so easily in this criteria. How do you hold a break?)

3. As verbs they must be action verbs. You cannot simply trigger or cross or break. You must trigger a gun, cross a river, or break a vase. This relates to how each of the titular items in the game have an active effect on something, not a passive one. (Brake doesn't quite fit, as you can simply tell someone driving a car to brake, and they'll know what you mean.)

4. Each word has the letter "r" as their second letter.

I can't really explain the significance of "Break" or "Brake" quite yet, but it probably has something to do with the halting or destruction of time. Only time will tell. *Bang, blam!* Okay, sorry for the bad pun.

-Kung Fu Dude, who hopes that he won't have to destroy the game or stop playing it out of disgust.

You knowI love it when you get pedantic....

Break the chain


Damn them. DAMN THEM.

I could endure without the shiny polygonal goodness of FFX, and though I drool over Kingdom Hearts with much intrigue, I would have inevitably been able to live out the rest of my days without seeing it in action.

But they just HAD to go and cross the line, didn't they. And make a poor college student weep tears of bitter envy for an inevitably glorious game that she may never get to play.

Personal issues aside, I loves me some Chrono Trigger and I can't wait to see what they do with this game. An absolute wild guess would be that it has something to do with the "entity" mentioned in the first game (as far as loose ends, that's really the only one that readily comes to mind beyond the whole 'Schala' bit). Maybe a further exploration of the world, new areas, new times, blah-dee-blah...

But it's not about what they'll give us yet. It's about what we want. So while it's just a name and a cloud of speculation, I'm airing my list of demands. I'll try to be brief.

- Smaller cast. 'Nuff said.
- Simpler plot. The first one was fairly straightforward in my opinion, yet still left a few things to puzzle over. Mystery is an okay thing. A "what the hell?" ending (or, being the case, several endings) is not.
- Nu. I recall no Nu in CC. It just wasn't the same without those "worthless purple piles of cool" (to quote the Zacman). Don't tell me no Nus is good Nus, because that pun is proper grounds to be sent to hell.
- Little distractions. CT had the fair, it had the Tabs to hunt for, the Nu puzzles and the clone dolls. But they weren't long-ass tedious frustrating multi-part epic sidequests or horribly complicated minigames. You went, you did the thing, you were done. Ba-da-bing. We need more of that.
- If not Lucca, then someone like Lucca. Everybody likes Lucca.
- Actually, anyone more closely related to the core cast (not just look-alikes) would be cool.

That said, it's time for the impossible dream, wouldn't-it-be-great "I want a pony" statement:

An original-cast sequel would rock my tiny fangirl world.

And THAT is what would make my slaving away many hours at some job to buy a console worthwhile. Yes yes.

--Kate Sith, not the Grimace, not the Mothman, not dead yet

To be sure, I was surprised when, after leaving the ending of CT so uncannily open to the possibility of a direct sequel, CC disregarded any such open doors in favor of its almost wholly unrelated "plot." Now, they've largely cut themselves off via the systematic elimination of the better part of the core cast. Which, I'll confess, kind of pisses me off, because CT is one of the few games I think warranted a true sequel.



I am hesitant to comment on the massive, squirming, Lovecraftian relationship between the two existing Chrono games. The only thing I found lacking in Cross was the unmistakable humor that had pervaded, enhanced, and, most likely, caused the very creation of the first game.

It was as if the largest talent in the genre had decided over beers that they should get paid to hang out and tell jokes; they turned what amounted to a side project into one of the high points of gaming history. Cross came across as more of a proper game, without a wanton disregard for the traditions established in the rest of the industry.

And here I said I didn't want to comment about this; getting back to the here and now, we've got only three words to give us any information. The different registrations must have a reason, however, that reason could simply be that your average Japanese gamer is more likely to pronounce "Brake" correctly than "Break". Or, more likely, they've got something to do the difference in cultures.

"Chrono Trigger" comes from the device of the same name - an egg, of all things, I believe - while "Chrono Cross" is the item that allows Serge (and thereby the rest of the Rebel Alliance) to switch worlds/dimensions/give me a migraine/dazzle me with keen special effects. Most likely, then, the "Break" or "Brake" will be an important item in the game; it might stop time, ala Bullet Time in Max Payne, or it may damage time/the universe/your retina somehow.

This, in ever further outlandish speculation, leads me to think that we've two options: either time travel is a key factor once more, or we'll be repairing reality (in one form or another) during the course of the game. Personally, I'd enjoy seeing a shattered time stream/universe approach, as it strikes me as having big possibilities.

In the end, though, they're probably still working on the script for the game; you wouldn't, by chance, have any idea when a company registers the name(s) of the game during the course of development, would you?


Well, it was known over 8 months ago the CC team was contemplating another Chrono game, which should give you a basic idea of how deep they've had time to wade.

I'd love to see the team say "fuck causality" and enshrine time travel at the core of CB's plot where it belongs. CC hardly warranted slapping on the "Chrono" name, suggestive of temporal antics as it is, but more importantly, the variety of people and places time travel offerred as a plot device - far more than Toriyama's character designs - made for CT's interesting and varied cast and locales.

Breaking the mold


I just wanted to share this weird thing with you. A few months ago (damn, more like 6 or 7 months ago actually) I was on the gamefaqs message boards for both Chrono games just browsing through the topics. Well, some guy had created a thread on both boards saying that he had top secret info about the third Chrono game. He claimed it was going to be called Chrono Break and that it involved rips in space time and would better explain the connection between the alternate worlds of Trigger and Cross and clear up any doubt over character identity (Magus=Janus and all that shit that i *really* care about now that its been beaten to death). No one believed him and he got flamed pretty bad. I didnt pay much attention to him either, until today....

Basically, when i saw Chrono Break mentioned in the GIA news story, i pooped my little red spiderman underoos. You mean this idiot on the message board who we thought was just trying to spread rumors was actually right?! I jsut wish i had taken him more seriously now and read the rest of his post! he claimed to have character details!

The same thing happened to me with the last seinfeld episode. A month before it aired I would have never thought this jerk talking in some chatroom would have known the big secret ending. Who would have guessed they would be in a plane crash and get thrown in jail for teasing a fat guy?

So the lesson we learn here is that we shouldnt always dismiss internet fanboy rumors so quickly. Sure, theyre wrong 99.9% of the time, but heres two that were right at least.

Oh yeah and Chrono Break is gonna rock. End of discussion.

Action Jackson, ok the underoos are batman. geez.

Next I suppose you'll be entreating us to give the credibility of EB employees the benefit of the doubt....


My hopes and dreams for the Chrono series of games, eh? Hmmm... that's a tough one... hmmmm.


Wait. Yes. That's it. I've got it. I know what I'd love to see Square do with the Chrono series.

HOW ABOUT A DAMN PAL RELEASE?!?!?!? They didn't give us Chrono Trigger. They didn't give us Chrono Cross. I reckon they owe us Chrono Break/Brake. And give us the port of CT and release CC while we're waiting for CB. And perhaps FF Tactics and Xenogears too, as long as they're in a PAL-convertin' mood.

Apparently they've just decided to release the PSX port of FF6 in PAL to tide us over until we get FFX (whenever that might be). So maybe we'll get CT about the same time and then have to wait another 10 years for CC and XG and FFT.

If they decide not to give us a PAL conversion, the only other thing I'd love to see Square do with the Chrono series is stick all three episodes up their ar*e simultaneously.

Randall Flagg, who is at least able to enjoy Pro Evolution Soccer, since Konami sometimes treat the PAL markets with a bit of kindness and respect

This had to be said, really it did. If there's any one thing about the Chrono series in need of rectification, it's this. The overlooking of the PAL market simply because European RPG fans are so used to being overlooked that they import enough games to make too-little, too-late PAL releases less than profitable is an inexcusable Catch 22.

My heart goes out to you and the rest of the PAL set -- you make me appreciate the Stars & Stripes like nobody's business.

Closing Comments:

Tomorrow: PaRappa 2.

PaRappa the Rappa, in many ways, cleared the way for the rhthym genre, becoming one of the first "quirky" games to hit it big Stateside. PaRappa 2 relies heavily on the old formula, but in this rhthym renaissance, alongside the likes of Rez and DDR, do we still gotta believe?

- Erin Mehlos

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